From £22,801
Can’t quite match a Qashqai or a Kuga for dynamics, but good value

What is it?

This is a car with a lot on its plate. The ix35 is the replacement for the Tucson, Hyundai’s good-value proposition in the soft-roader market. But at the same time, the firm would love it to steal sales from lifestyle ‘crossover’ models, principally the Nissan Qashqai.

Those parameters have presumably been fed into some Korean supercomputer, which has number-crunched the following result: a car that’s bigger than the Tucson and the Qasqhai, but marginally smaller than a Ford Kuga. It's a decent-looking machine, too; there’s more than a touch of latter-day Infiniti about the multiple creases on the ix35’s flanks, but they do a good job of disguising its bulk.

When the car launches next spring, it will have just half of its eventual engine line-up: a 2.0 petrol and this 2.0 diesel. Hyundai is pinning big hopes to the smaller-capacity units that are due next autumn, a 1.6-litre petrol emitting 149g/km of CO2 and a new 1.7-litre diesel – in effect a bored-out version of the motor already used in the i30 – that will emit 139g/km. They both use stop-start to achieve these figures.

There is a more potent 182bhp 2.0-litre oil-burner, incidentally, but Hyundai UK sources say the firm is “unlikely” to bring it to Britain.

What’s it like?

Make no mistake: this is not a small car. The ix35 is almost 10cm longer than the Qashqai, and it feels every millimetre of that when you’re behind the wheel. In fact, while it’s ever so slightly narrower than a Kuga, it feels bigger; thick C-pillars don’t do all-round visibility many favours, and you sit up high compared with a Qashqai.

Still, the size does come in handy in the cabin, which feels more like a genuine SUV’s than a compromised crossover’s. There’s plenty of head and leg room all round; even with a 6ft driver up front, a similarly sized passenger will be perfectly comfortable behind him. The seats are pretty flat, but comfortable, and fit and finish are acceptable; soft-touch plastics are nowhere to be seen, but it’s durable rather than nasty.

On the road the Hyundai’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor doesn’t feel overawed by the car’s size; if anything, it’s a little too easy to light up the front tyres on all but bone-dry roads. Once your right foot learns to compensate for this, though, it’s easy to make rapid progress. The engine is gutsy from about 1500rpm, and while there’s a little more to come at 3500rpm, you’ll be ready to change up by then. The gearbox is a little baggy, but quick enough with a positive throw.

In handling terms, the ix35 feels more like a regular SUV than either the Qashqai or the Kuga. Body control is surprisingly decent, but this has come with a slight cost in ride quality, which is more easily unsettled and less subtly damped than the Ford’s. And while the steering feels accurate on the whole, it’s a little vague around the straight-ahead.

The ix35 is reasonably refined on motorways, where wind and road noise are well suppressed. But sixth gear is perhaps a little too short for British speeds; the engine is a little too noisy beyond 2500rpm, and you’ll be very close to that figure at 70mph.

Should I buy one?

The ix35 fails to nail one category convincingly, without ever causing real offence. With that in mind, its proposition could well come down to value – and it’s well placed to take deliver on that front. Our Premium model came equipped with 18in alloys, climate control, keyless entry and go, automatic headlights, folding door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, heated seats, leather trim, panoramic sunroof and USB/iPod connectivity – yet when it goes on sale next spring, this variant is confidently tipped to sneak under £20,000.

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At that price, and with that much kit, it’s well placed to embarrass the range-topping front-drive Qashqai diesel - which costs £22k – and offer a superior five-year warranty to boot. And when you consider that base ix35s could start as low as £16k, it’s hard to see how the car will not add to Hyundai’s burgeoning sales success in the UK.

John McIlroy

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HyundaiSmoke 8 December 2009

Re: Hyundai ix35 2.0 CRDi Premium

Guys, the Tuscon will be reliable.

KIA is becoming what Datsun should have been I think. Sporty, Economical, Affordable, Reliable, etc..... Hyundai is becoming what Chrysler should have been. More content, more affordable, better reliability, and better fuel economy..

Leave Proton alone they show promise. I bet they are of better quality than most of the crap that doesnt even make the top 15 on US or most EU Reliability lists. If Anybody could be the next Toyota its them.

slipslop 7 December 2009

Re: Hyundai ix35 2.0 CRDi Premium

I agree with those who say this car looks all wrong - the shape, the creases, that front (that side, that rear).

I agree also that Hyundaismoke is unreasonably prejudiced in favour of Hyundai/Kia cars.

But I don't think we should be telling people to go off and view websites only in their country of residence. The joy of the internet is that we can look at websites the world over. I look at French, Spanish, German sites in addition to several US and British sites.

There is no doubt that people in the US have different taste to us in the UK. Many US cars look appalling to me. Their fronts are garish and brutal looking. But each to their own...

jonfortwo 7 December 2009

Re: Hyundai ix35 2.0 CRDi Premium

Lee23404 wrote:
Yes the design isn't great but it isn't that bad either.

Thats what they said about Datsun in the 70`s

Lee23404 wrote:
will probably be reliable


If this car was a human being it would have no pulse